Phils' need for a bat is dj vu for former GM Gillick

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Phils' need for a bat is dj vu for former GM Gillick

NEW YORK -- Retired and enjoying retirement in the Pacific northwest, former Phillies general manager Pat Gillick doesn't show up at the ballpark too much these days. But that doesn't mean he is too far away from the action.

In his role as a special adviser to GM Ruben Amaro Jr., Gillick says he talks to his protege a couple of times per week. Moreover, like a lot of Phillies' fans and pundits, the soon-to-be inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame believes the team needs a right-handed bat.

Gillick wouldn't be surprised if Charlie Manuel is in the GM's ear asking for a hitter.

"The year we won 116 games in Seattle, everyday manager Lou Pinella would tell me we needed another hitter, and I'm the same way," Gillick said during a conference call ahead of his induction to the Hall of Fame next Sunday. "Atlanta's got three guys in their bullpen that can shut down your lefthanders."

Gillick knows that Amaro is a "pitching first guy," which could be a glimpse into the Phillies' thinking as the July trade deadline looms.

Still, it's a bit reassuring that (arguably) the best modern general manager in the history of the game is counseling Amaro. After all, if there is one guy who has been in the middle of things during the trade deadline it is Gillick. And though he might not be pulling the strings anymore, he still has some input.

Gillick is the guy, who in his first year as GM of the Phillies, sent the team's top hitter Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle to the Yankees for marginal prospects. It was a controversial move at the time because the Phillies did not get back talent to match Abreu. However, Gillick knew Abreu had to go in order to allow other players to emerge. In the press conference to announce Abreu's trade, Gillick said the Phillies were "two years away."

Two years later the team won the World Series.

"He wasn't a high-energy guy," Gillick said. "Abreu is still playing, but we thought that by trading him, guys like Chase Utley, Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins might play with more energy and that was the case."

The Abreu trade was not the biggest deal Gillick pulled off with the Phillies, but it probably was the one that marked his tenure with the club by looking into the future. The same goes for his very first deal upon joining the Phillies when he dealt Jim Thome and cash to the White Sox for Aaron Rowand and pitching prospect Gio Gonzalez.

With Thome gone, Ryan Howard won the NL MVP Award in his first full season as the team's first baseman.

Gillick was the master of making the little deals that fly beneath the radar only to become significant as the season progresses.

With the Phillies, Gillick picked up Matt Stairs after the trade deadline in 2008 as that bat off the bench. When Utley broke his hand late in the 2007 season, Gillick wrangled veteran second baseman Tadahito Iguchi from the White Sox and saw him bat .304 in 45 regular-season games. He also picked up Greg Dobbs before the 2007 season as a third basemanpinch-hitter and picked up Jayson Werth from waivers from Dodgers when many thought the outfielder's career was over.

Werth became one of the more popular Phillies' players in recent memory.

Gillick had a close relationship with Werth dating back to the GM's days running the Orioles when the team took the high school catcher out of Springfield, Ill. in the first round. Gillick was working his way up as director of scouting for the Yankees when the team drafted Dennis Werth, Jayson's father.

Yet despite his history with the Werth family, Gillick was "shocked and stunned" that the Nationals signed Jayson to a seven-year, 126 million deal.

"I'm happy for Jayson, but it wouldn't have been something I'd recommend," Gillick said.

Gillick didn't often give long-term deals to players and rarely offered them to pitchers. That hasn't been the case for his successor Amaro, who has inked Roy Halladay to a 60 million deal and Cliff Lee to a five-year contract. The pitching-happy GM might shell out the years and cash for Cole Hamels in the not-so distant future.

Regardless, in a career that has spanned GM gigs in Toronto, Baltimore, Seattle and Philadelphia, Gillick's best moves likely came when building the Blue Jays.

Taking over an expansion team in 1976, Gillick helped guide the Jays to five AL East crowns and back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993. During those runs he made deals to get Paul Molitor, Rickey Henderson, Dave Winfield, Jimmy Key and Jack Morris and made a trade that sent Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez to San Diego for Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar.

As fate would have it, Gillick will be inducted into the Hall of Fame with Alomar next Sunday.

Still, Gillick says the deal that set up the Jays' back-to-back titles came at the deadline in 1992 when he traded away a prospect named Jeff Kent for a veteran right-hander named David Cone.

"One of the guys we gave up probably is a marginal Hall of Famer, Jeff Kent," Gillick said. "We thought about it and said, 'David Cone is a guy we think can put us over the hump,' and at the same time a deal like that kind of deflates your competition."

Interestingly, Amaro has inherited a penchant for those types of deals from his predecessor and we'll see what he has up his sleeve over the next couple of week.
John Finger will have more from Gillick's call later this week and from the Hall of Fame festivities in Cooperstown, N.Y. over the weekend.

E-mail John R. Finger at jfinger@comcastsportsnet.com

Related: 700Level: Hamels shows frustration toward Phils Hamels gets rocked in Phillies' ugly loss to Mets

Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field

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Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field

NEW YORK -- Chase Utley hit a grand slam and a solo homer after Noah Syndergaard threw a 99 mph fastball behind his back, and the Los Angeles Dodgers went deep a season-high five times in routing the New York Mets 9-1 on Saturday night.

In a scene that seemed inevitable since October, Syndergaard was immediately ejected following the third-inning pitch -- almost certainly his shot at retaliation against Utley for the late takeout slide that broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in last year's playoffs.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari tossed Syndergaard, sending Mets manager Terry Collins into a rage, but no trouble ensued between the teams. A longtime New York nemesis, Utley raised one hand slightly in the direction of the Dodgers' bench to keep teammates calm -- and later answered by doing all sorts of damage with his bat.

Kenta Maeda (4-3) shook off an early line drive that appeared to hit him in the pitching hand and threw five shutout innings for the win. The right-hander yielded two hits, both in the first, and snapped his three-game losing streak.

Adrian Gonzalez homered and had four hits for the Dodgers, who spoiled the Mets' 30th anniversary celebration of their 1986 World Series championship. Corey Seager and Howie Kendrick also connected, all after Syndergaard was gone.

Pinch-hitter Juan Lagares homered in the eighth for New York, long after the outcome was decided.

The stoic Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since Tejada was injured. The Mets -- and their fans -- were incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules this season designed to protect infielders in what some call the Utley Rule.

But the Mets had not tried to retaliate until Saturday night.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard's first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman's back by a considerable margin.

Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected after screaming at Hamari and pointing in his face during an animated argument. The manager was finally escorted back toward the New York dugout by another umpire.

After waiting near the mound with teammates for some time, Syndergaard walked calmly to the Mets' dugout without showing any emotion as the crowd cheered him.

Logan Verrett (3-2) entered for the Mets and, with a vocal contingent in the sellout crowd of 42,227 urging him to hit Utley with a pitch, eventually threw a called third strike past him. But then Utley homered on Verrett's first pitch of the sixth to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

Booed all night, Utley added his sixth career slam off Hansel Robles in the seventh, giving Los Angeles a 6-0 cushion with his 38th career homer against the Mets.

In the series opener Friday night, Utley was greeted with loud jeers and derisive chants. He had four RBIs in a 6-5 loss, including a three-run double that tied the score with two outs in the ninth.

Where are you now?
Tejada was released by the Mets during spring training and signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, who designated him for assignment Saturday.

Trainer's room
Dodgers: RF Trayce Thompson exited in the fifth with lower back soreness. He was replaced by Yasiel Puig, who hit an RBI single off Verrett in the sixth.

Mets: INF Wilmer Flores (hamstring) went 1 for 2 with a sacrifice fly in his fifth rehab game for Double-A Binghamton. Before the game, Collins said it was reasonable to think Flores could come off the disabled list Sunday.

Up next
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 1.48 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday night against 43-year-old Bartolo Colon (4-3, 3.44). Kershaw, coming off a two-hit shutout against Cincinnati, is 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 10 starts against the Mets. He is 5-0 with a 0.64 ERA in May -- including a three-hit shutout of New York on May 12 at Dodger Stadium. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has struck out 55 and walked two this month.

Best of MLB: Blue Jays get walk-off win vs. Red Sox

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Best of MLB: Blue Jays get walk-off win vs. Red Sox

TORONTO -- With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Toronto Blue Jays' repeated comeback efforts on Saturday were starting to look like they might come up agonizingly short.

But with Justin Smoak, Russell Martin and Devon Travis all facing consecutive two-strike counts against Boston Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, a four-time All-Star, an unlikely thing happened.

They all cashed in, and the Blue Jays walked off with a 10-9 victory, their fourth straight against Boston and their third walk-off win of the year.

"With the potency in our lineup, I feel like no lead is really big enough," said Martin, who went 3-for-5 and hit his third home run in four days in the sixth inning. "We can always find a way to get runners on and also if the other team makes a mistake, capitalizing on those mistakes. I think that was the key for us today. I think there was a couple miscues on defense for them and we were able to take advantage of that."

Martin kick-started the rally in the eighth that led Toronto back from a four-run deficit to tie the game at 8. But he really got things going in the ninth, with Ezequiel Carrera on as a pinch-runner for Smoak, doubling a fastball into left field to tie the game at 9 (see full recap).

Royals score 7 in 9th to beat White Sox; Perez hurt
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Brett Eibner wondered whether anything could surpass the Kansas City Royals' rally Friday night, when they overcome a four-run deficit to beat the Chicago White Sox in his major league debut.

He did not have to wait long to find out.

Eibner singled to cap the biggest ninth-inning comeback in Royals history, a seven-run rally off David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle that lifted the World Series champions over the Chicago White Sox 8-7 Saturday.

"I didn't think I could beat yesterday and, sure enough, we come around and do this," said Eibner, who also doubled to helped spark the inning. "It's super fun. There's nothing like it. I don't think I've ever experienced that."

Kansas City's Salvador Perez was injured in the ninth when third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert slid with a forearm and elbow into the left thigh of the All-Star catcher, who called off Chien-Ming Wang (3-0), settled under Adam Eaton's foul popup about 30 feet from the plate near the third-base line and snagged the ball just before he was hit.

Perez was taken for a MRI after the game and the extent of his injury was not announced. The preliminary diagnosis was a bruised left thigh (see full recap).

Braves beat Marlins to lock up first home series win
ATLANTA -- Braves interim manager Brian Snitker says Gordon Beckham is "bouncing around like he's a teenager."

That makes sense, because the return to his childhood hometown has helped Beckham add new life to his career.

Beckham hit a three-run homer, Nick Markakis drove in two runs and Atlanta beat the Miami Marlins 7-2 on Saturday to secure their first home series win of the season.

Beckham, 29, an Atlanta native and former University of Georgia standout, spent most of his first seven seasons with the Chicago White Sox before signing with the Braves as a free agent. He is hitting .317 while earning more starts at third base and second base than was expected at the start of the season.

"I feel good," Beckham said. "I enjoy putting on this uniform every day. It's a lot of fun for me, being from Atlanta."

The Braves improved to a still-dismal 4-20 at Turner Field by winning the first two games of the three-game series. Atlanta rallied from a 2-0 deficit for the second straight day (see full recap).

Pete Mackanin: Like Chicago Italian beef, Freddy Galvis is the best

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Pete Mackanin: Like Chicago Italian beef, Freddy Galvis is the best

CHICAGO – Other than the Italian beef sandwiches from Portillo’s that he loves so much, Pete Mackanin hasn’t had much to feel good about during his trip to his hometown.
 
Mackanin’s rebuilding Phillies have been bulldozed by the powerful Chicago Cubs two days in a row (see game story) and have lost four of five games on a road trip that ends with one more in Wrigley Field on Sunday afternoon.
 
As difficult as it was to see his club get roughed up on Saturday, Mackanin was able to find a sliver of something good in the rubble of a 4-1 defeat.
 
“The highlight of the day was Freddy Galvis -- all day,” Mackanin said.
 
Mackanin listed all the things his 26-year-old shortstop did, from a tremendous relay throw to the plate to stop a run from scoring, to his two hustle plays that led to the Phillies’ only run in the ninth.
 
Galvis, who made several outstanding plays in the field on Friday, vowed to cut down on his errors after making 17 last season. He has just one in 48 games this season and Mackanin is more than impressed with the improvement.
 
“He’s making every play there is,” Mackanin said. “To me, if he’s not the best shortstop in the league, I’d like to see the guy that’s playing as consistent defense as he is.
 
“I’m thrilled with the way he’s playing. He’s playing hard and kind of taken a leadership role just with the way he goes about his business.”
 
Galvis has improved his defense by committing himself to concentrating for 27 outs and not getting careless on routine plays.
 
“I’ve been working with Larry Bowa on trying to set my feet and make the routine plays,” he said. “Don’t try to do too much. Just throw the ball, catch the ball and that’s it. So far, so good.”
 
Mackanin has made it clear that he expects his players to play hard and hustle. He made a huge statement to that effect when he benched his best player, Odubel Herrera, for not running out a ground ball in Detroit on Monday night.
 
So it was not surprising to see Mackanin heap praise on Galvis for his hustle in the top of ninth inning Saturday.
 
Galvis led off the inning with a pop up to right field. Outfielder Jason Heyward and second baseman Ben Zobrist got their signals crossed and the ball fell in. Galvis, running hard the whole way, ended up on second with a fluke double.
 
“That was huge the way he ran that out,” Mackanin said.
 
Galvis then moved to third on a ground ball and scored the Phillies’ only run on a risky base running play. Ryan Howard whiffed on a dropped third strike. As catcher Miguel Montero threw to first to complete the out, Galvis sprinted down the line and slid safely into home. He was able to get a huge jump because the Cubs shifted Howard and left third uncovered. Had Galvis been out at the plate, the game would have been over and it would have gone down as a bad play. But he made it and Mackanin loved it. 
 
“He hustled on a routine fly ball that turned into a double, advanced and scored on the throw to first after the strikeout – it made my whole day,” Mackanin said. “It burnt the shutout. I like to see a guy like that play with that kind of energy.”
 
Earlier in the game, Galvis was hit by a pitch on the right ankle. The pitch got him good and he hobbled to first base. But his dash for home in the ninth inning proved he was OK. Still, he wore an ice pack on the leg after the game. It was a noticeable enough ice pack that Galvis had to be asked whether he expected to play on Sunday.
 
“(Bleep) yeah,” he said.